27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” -Matthew 23:27-28 (ESV)
When God dwelt among us, robbed in the flesh as Jesus Christ (John 1:14), He spent time rebuking the religious people. Why? I believe the answer lies in what He says to them. He said that they were like whitewashed tombs full of dead people’s bones. Many equate religion with God. To them it is the same thing. To be religious is to be godly and follow God. But, we see in the Bible that that is just simply not true.
6″Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”-John 14:6 (ESV)
25″Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”-John 11:25 (ESV)
If being in a religion is following God and He is life, then why were the religious people likened to a whitewashed tomb full of dead people’s bones? The answer is that they made too much of religion. To them is was the following of the law that saved them.
God saves us.
Let me put it to you this way: Religion is to empty carbs as Jesus is to food with nutritional value. Religion leaves you hungry for more, and lacking in sufficient nutrients. With Jesus you will never hunger or thirst again, because your soul is being fed what God created you to be fed with.
Since I met Jesus and became a disciple I have had periods where I was thirsty and hungry for Him. It was during those times that I had not nurtured my relationship with Him. I was homesick and just needed to spend time with Him. So, when I say that you will never hunger or thirst again I am saying that as long as you are nurturing your relationship with Him you will not. The thing with religion is that you hunger and thirst and try to fill it with works of service and what not all, but you eventually become weary and feeling dried up inside (dead people’s bones, hello). You act right, you do all the right things, but it is never good enough. You never find that point of satisfaction and peace; that only comes from Jesus.
With Jesus, I am enough, just as I am. He loves me and gently corrects me. He blesses me when I walk in obedience; when I stumble and fall, He picks me up and washes me off. When I spend time with Him, He fills my soul with good nutrition. With that nutrition I am able to do good works and pour out my life into the lives of others.
Can you be in a relationship with Jesus and be religious? Yes. I am not saying that being religious is wrong. We need to be in community; together with other disciples of Christ we make up the body of Christ, with Him as our head. We should gather together to spur one another on, and to lift one another up. What I am saying is that you need to evaluate yourself. Are you trying to reach God through your religion; or are you joining yourself to other Christians, as the body of believers, because Jesus reached you with His atoning power? There is a difference. Check to see if there is any Pharisee in you and then repent.
Don’t settle for empty carbs. Go for the good stuff.
By His Grace,